winter sunsets (driving away from you)

Air, love, and ideals were important, no argument there, but you couldn’t survive on them alone.
Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

i did this the day before thanksgiving
driving away from you into a winter sunset

i repeated the drive just a month later on xmas eve
driving away from you into a winter sunset

trees reaching black and skeletal into the sky
ribboned pink orange yellow and blue gray

i am driving alone and in the wrong direction
thinking about e.e. cummings “i carry your heart with me”

every time i am away from you i miss you and us
and i recognize in the ribboned winter sunset

no humans can construct anything as huge and wonderful
as the colors of a sky at twilight or loving you entirely

between these two drives came the winter solstice
the world tilting again toward spring and then summer

daylight expanding and warming as your palms on me
watching night fall and longing to return again to you

—P.L. Thomas

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war in the time of commas

so many of the wars
seemed senseless in retrospect

all of them in fact

but it was the war eliminating commas
that proved to be most ridiculous

all the lives and limbs lost
to settle a matter of mechanics

who manufactured all those land mines
who manufactured this maze of rules

do you recognize me standing here
like an oxford comma hidden in a fist

this one-armed human trying to pause
our never-ending apocalypse of grammar

—P.L. Thomas

obelisks (dreams & memories)

“How much loneliness the truth can cause sometimes.”
Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

the first night you are away
i dream about you

excitedly you are telling everyone
you are going on study away

for a year

you speak to others as if i am not there
as i would not be while you are away

once before there was us
and i was the one leaving

you startled me sitting in my car
you out of breath from chasing me

just to wish me a safe trip
just to let me know you would miss me

this was well before us or any hope of us
so i could not step out of the car to hug you

i am not sure what to do with dreams
i am not sure what to do with memories

they rise sometimes like monuments
on the horizon of our minds and regrets

giant human-made spires reaching to heaven
telling us where to turn our eyes in hope

tekhenu you whispered in my ear

but i could not tell if this was a dream
i could not tell if this was some dim memory

because it stood so tall and so heavy
i could not move for hours

—P.L. Thomas

arid (alone together)

we wake in the desert
alone together

we have nothing to do
alone together

let’s do something (i say)
that looks like nothing

and then it is evening
the sun dropping to horizon

we have found an old couch
to sit alone together

you swing legs and feet into my lap
and i dust off your soles

we sit in the desert
alone together

the light of day filtering
into darkness

the air softly cooling
just us palm to sole

we do not speak but breath
alone together

a full moon blankets the desert
silently arcing the night

we will sleep in the desert
alone together

—P.L. Thomas

i don’t belong here

in the dream
i have a thick black beard and hair

in real life
i have a greying beard and shaved head

in the dream
i trim too much of the beard and then shave everything

in real life
i wake anxious as always but check the mirror any way

a couple mornings a week
i transfer my grandchildren
from their mother to daycare

these children only about 2 and 4
live a life on constant shuffle
that my granddaughter rebels against

she begs for the brick house where i live
each time i strap her into the car seat
destined to another home that loves her

the morning after the black hair dream
she begins to scream and cry as i carry her
“i don’t belong here” reaching back to my car

i am much too old and anxious
for a four-year-old in existential crisis
on this spinning planet always in orbit

as i drive away with her crying on the couch
i check the rearview mirror again just in case
the person i was in the dream looks back at me

—P.L. Thomas